I don’t mind admitting that I am a bit of a number nerd. One of the ways this manifests itself in Football Manager is in the assignment of squad numbers. This is one of my favourite parts of the game and I spend all summer eagerly awaiting the day when I have to submit my finalised list. In order to get the list just right, there are certain rules I follow:
- No existing player can change his squad number.
- Players in the same position cannot have consecutive squad numbers (unless this would violate rule #1) – so currently my second team, AS Roma, are in my bad books as their three right-backs, Alessandro Florenzi, Bruno Peres and Rick Karsdorp are 24, 25 and 26 respectively.
- Once a player has a number lower than 30, he keeps that number. I’ll occasionally move a youth-team player (regen only though!) from 30+ down to a lower number, but there they stay.
- Players with favoured squad numbers are accomodated.
- Where two players have the same favoured squad number, the more senior gets it. The less senior gets the closest number visually (e.g. if they both want 4, the less senior gets 44)
- In Italy, anything goes. In fact, it seems obligatory to have a crazy number in the squad somewhere.
- Local customs are to be observed, so for example, in the Netherlands the left-back wears 5, not 3.
- If a player leaves and re-joins, he will be given his old number back if it is free. If not, he gets the nearest visual equivalent (e.g. 4 and 44 as with #5, or if he used to wear 12 he may now get 21)
Most of these come from some crazy Forest-related memories and associations I’ve built up.
- I don’t really like 7, but tend to give it to a left-winger more than a right winger for some reason, or a ball-winning midfielder (heavily influenced by Andy Reid and David Prutton here)
- 12 is good for a back-up keeper, or a utility player.
- 13 goes to a key player, usually right-sided or central. Very rarely left-sided
- 14 is a key left-sided attacker (I have Ian Woan to thank for this!)
- 15 is left-footed and usually defensive (Craig Armstrong and Tony Vaughan inspired this, and Chris Cohen’s stint wearing 15 only added to it). Failing that, it may be the second-choice keeper’s shirt.
- 16 is a defensive midfielder (think Daniele De Rossi or Roy Keane. Or Michael Carrick perhaps)
- 19 is usually a back-up striker, though this can also be a defensive midfielder’s number.
- 22 is either a left winger or a right-back (Bryan Roy or Des Lyttle – there are no other options)
- 23 is a striker (Dexter Blackstock and Junior Agogo)
- 27 is the third-choice goalkeeper. I have a truly irrational dislike of this number and so I give it to someone who has little or no chance of ever making the matchday squad. Cruel, but necessary in my eyes.
And that’s about it. There may be more ‘rules’ which I have forgotten, so this post may be edited as they come back to me. Let me know how you deal with squad numbers and if you have any habits or rules you stick to.